Alright, here’s what you need to know about Super Meat Boy. The Super Meat Boy is a terrific athlete, everyone loves the him. He loves Bandage Girl and they got a good thing going on. Dr. Fetus is fetus in a jar in control of a person suit and a jerk, so he…
…and whisks her away to the improbably large number of properties that he owns. Meat Boy gives chase, but whenever he’s about to rescue her, Dr. Fetus takes her to another location. Locations such as, the nearby woods, a salt factory, and literal hell. Meat Boy is fast and made out of meat so he can jump and run, using his parkour powers to navigate increasingly bizarre and treacherous terrain.
Super Meat Boy and it’s development team, Team Meat, spearheaded by Edmund McMillen have a colorful history. McMillen often drew monsters and strange things as a boy and started publishing Flash Games on sites like Newgrounds in 2001. Games such as Dead Baby Dressup, 12 Dead Baby Uses, WWF Baby Dressup, and Clubby the Seal. McMillen’s first commercial release was Gish, in which the player controls a sentient ball of tar trying to rescue his girflriend. Meat Boy was released in 2008 made in Flash and it was quite popular, netting millions of views across the sites hosting it.
Microsoft and Nintendo approached him about making an expanded game for XBLA and WiiWare. McMillen formed Team Meat with Tommy Refenes to code stuff, Danny Baranowsky to do the music, and Jordan Fehr to make the various metallic and meaty noises. Development started in January of 2009 and in August of 2010 McMillen got word from Microsoft that they wanted the game released in two months for a promotion they wanted to start — even though they would fail to promote the game at pivotal moments. Which prompted McMillen and Refenes to design and code as if their game depended on it — because it did. But the game did get released on schedule to plumb and great fanfare.
Super Meat Boy was released on October 20th, 2010. It’s competition was Fallout: New Vegas (PC, XBox 360, and PS3), Dragon Age Origins: Ultimate Edition (PC, PS3, XBox 360), and Fable III (XBox 360).
Fun Fact: PETA protested the game with the release of Super Tofu Boy. Edmund decided to include an easter egg based on this. If the player types ‘petaphyle’ at the title screen they will unlock Super Tofu Boy, a character so slow and with a jump so low it’s literally impossible for him to complete most stages.
I’m not sure how long the leaderboards stay up or if they ever get cleared. Point being I completed a stage so fast that I held the fastest time. It’s an early stage, so it’s not like I’m master of the game or anything, but I still felt really stoked. The leaderboards are also split between different characters so it’s possible to be the best at your favorite character if Meat Boy isn’t your bag.
Super Meat Boy is a platformer with the sensibilities of Hotline Miami. You’re gonna die a LOT. Pits, sawblades, other meat, cannons, salt, and syringes will all cause Meat Boy to explode in gore and death but he’ll be back in a literal second ready for more. Each world and each level slowly ramps up the difficulty and adds new gimmicks and mechanical elements until it’s a giant mass of fans, conveyor belts, salt streams, cannons, and other things that the player will come to master.
Completing the level is one thing but what’s more important is doing everything in the game — right? Super Meat Boy comes with unlockable characters, collectible bandages, warp zones to alternate stages, dark world counterparts — for those who find the regular levels too easy — , and A+ing every stage by doing it fast. The unlockable characters aren’t just skins, most of them have special and unique abilities which change the way they play, such as Commander Video’s glide or Josef’s propeller head spin. Certain characters are even more effective on certain maps so if you get stuck it might just mean changing up the character you’re playing.
The game’s fucking hard to complete 100% and I think all the things necessary to do so actually do a better job at dissuading the player from that sort of behavior rather than encouraging it. I got to chapter four, liked the story, had a blast with the game, and played with all the characters I had unlocked but put it away for a few months when it started to get too tough for me. Now I’m back on the horse and I’m having just as much fun as I did in my first run through. The whole while I don’t feel the pressure I usually do to 100% the game because christ, that would just take too much effort.
When you do finish a level the game runs a replay with every failed attempt running at once. This is one of the most cathartic things on the entire planet. Seeing all of your failures in motion as they fall into pits, get chopped up by saws, or fall into piles of needles while the one who matters gets to the goal really made me feel like I had done good.
If you just couldn’t get enough then have no fear, there’s no such thing as enough. The game has a well constructed level editor and those levels can be found in the bonus world, Teh Internets. It might be possible to literally play this game forever.
Oh no, ooooooh no, the Social Justice Warrior hat is going onto my head. Curse my love of hats, I can’t bring myself to be rid of a single one. Well, the SJW hat is on so I might as well talk about something that I think is ‘problematic’. The game is a send up the platformers and games of McMillen’s childhood so Bandage Girl is gonna get kidnapped — it was an inevitability in design meeting #1. That’s not so clearly the problem because there’s a game mode where you can play as Bandage Girl rescuing Meat Boy instead, so that’s cool. The problem comes in the sheer number of times Dr. Fetus beats the piss out of her. Whenever Meat Boy completes a stage he gets dragged along to the next as Dr. Fetus pummels her mercilessly and poofs them away. It’s just a framing device but maybe not every animation had to be a ‘comedic’ beating. The problem is that the beatings are all game references that seem like their meant to be played for laughs.
Some of the warp zone levels are just leagues more difficult than the world their in. I understand that they’re sort of bonus content but sometimes a warp zone is just too hot for me to handle. It’s a difficulty spike so large that it’s more dissuading than anything. It’s probably just because games of the past have hard-wired that bonus levels are cool fun things.
The boss fights are a little meh. It’s tricky business making a boss fight out of a platformer, especially when Meat Boy has no attack. They’re all basically all forced platforming challenges and they’re all pretty good. But they don’t scratch that boss itch like an enemy from another game might.
I’m quite the prude and this game has got a lot of toilet humor. Literally, one of the bosses is a pile of Dr. Fetus’ fecal matter that Dr. Fetus has somehow given sentience. Needless to say I’m not a big fan of it.
Do I gotta say it? This game is seven years old and its’ a fucking masterpiece… if you like platforming. If the allure of jumping and not getting hit by things never appealed to you then this ‘un is not gonna light that flame. But if you ever longed for the days of Bubsy, hard Mario levels, or the madness induced fury of a Ghouls and Ghosts game then this was made for you. For the slick price of $15 it’s cheap to boot, especially considering all of the content therein.
Next Week: The Witness